By GEORGE OKOJIE
The founder of LEADERSHIP Newspapers and presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, yesterday declared that Nigeria was not yet on the path of development.
Nda-Isaiah, a member of Asian Think Tank, made the comments as the guest speaker at the City People magazine monthly lecture entitled, “Moving Nigeria Forward Lessons from Malaysia, Singapore, China and Dubai, which was held at Protea Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.
He noted that the one thing that separates Nigeria from the other developed nations is poor leadership.
Nda-Isaiah emphasized that until the missing link between Nigeria and countries like Singapore, China, Dubai and Malaysia – which is good leadership with passion for the development of the country – is tackled, the country will remain underdeveloped.
He said: “Nigeria, Malaysia, Singapore, China and Dubai have roughly similar history and circumstances. All of them were once considered Third World countries and were once termed emerging markets.
“Today, all others have joined the first world; only Nigeria remains a third world nation. And nobody still calls China, Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai emerging market anymore. China emerged from behind to overtake every European country in terms of size of economy and has now overtaken Japan to become the second largest economy in the world.”
Nda-Isaiah stated that the Nigeria paradox was disheartening because it was tilting towards a failed state and the people still habour utter disregard for the rule of law.
According to him, “Nigeria is the exact opposite of these countries when it comes to the rule of law. We have a president who openly says there is a difference between stealing and corruption. And when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor raised the alarm over the theft of billions of dollars, his first reaction was not to get alarmed but to suspend the CBN governor. That shocked the world. Nigeria currently cannot even secure its boys and girls as we have seen in Buni Yadi in Yobe State, Chibok and Gwoza, both in Borno State. Additional 100 young men were abducted in Borno State three days ago.
“Since Jonathan became president we no longer see people punished for corruption. We have ceded parts of our country to terrorists because money meant to buy ammunition is daily stolen.”
On the way forward, Nda-Isaiah said the education of the youths must be given priority attention in the country, quoting the United Nation report that Nigeria currently has the highest number of out-of-school children worldwide, put at 10.5 million
“The unemployment level in the country should frighten all of us,” he continued. “48 million Nigerians are unemployed. Since 48 million jobs are not available, Nigeria must create an army of entrepreneurs .
“We must bring in more youths into agriculture, online business, housing and manufacturing. Nigeria’s leaders must fashion out policies and subsidies that would create at least 10 million new small businesses in the next five years if we do not want a misfortune worse than Boko Haram to destroy us.”
The newspaper publisher opined that a small business that can create between two to five jobs, when established to the tune of 10 million business units, could generate no fewer than 50 million new jobs.
He further stated the country needed to tackle corruption urgently so as to free up money to secure the country, noting if the nation was able to defeat criminals, it could earn revenues from tourism just like Dubai, Singapore, Malaysia and China.
Nda-Isaiah charged the nation’s leaders to develop the culture of reading so as to learn from what obtains in other countries, pointing out that nations are now in competition.